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You English Experts: How Bad Is Your English, Sometimes?

Actually, I am quite adept in using my native tongue. No, I am not a stickler for rules, especially when rules seem (frankly) stupid. For instance, I ignore the rules when it comes to silent "h" and the use of 'a' or 'an'.

Even so, there are times when I either,

  1. Deliberately misuse the language for effect, or
  2. Misuse it because I can get across a point quite well without thinking about proper wording.

For example, I use an expression such as,

"If he'd a done what I told 'im to do in the first place..."

What words do I have in mind when I say this?

"If he had of done what I told him to do in the first place..."

Frankly, it is bad English.

What I should have said is this,

"If he would have done what I told him to do in the first place..."

The word "of" should have been "have". The word "had" is more excusable, but the word "would" would have been the superior choice.

There are many such sentences that I come out with, all rapid-fire, which make sense, but which are poor English.

Funny I can't think of them at the moment. It was not a problem thinking of them while I was lying in bed, waiting to go to sleep.

Now it's your turn. Admit it! There are things you say in your native tongue that you shouldn't say, and you KNOW better. Am I not right?

Image Credit » Pixabay

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Kasman wrote on May 14, 2018, 5:31 PM

Virtually no-one uses the English language in the proper way. I can give an expression frequently used in Scotland: If someone states 'I don't like that' the reply is often 'How?' when it should be 'Why?' or 'Why not?' This bastardisation of English is common yet, does it really matter? As long as everyone understands the meaning behind the words where's the harm? Languages are fluid - they are constantly evolving with words changing their meanings (Google was originally a noun but is now a verb as in 'to Google') or new words being added - added I must say by ordinary people as common usage. Only a pedant would insist that English be used in the 'proper' manner because that's not how ordinary people use it. Language is a communication tool and provided those who are communicating with each other understand what is being said (the meaning, not just the words) then it's doing its job. Listen to any conversation between people who are not literary scholars and you will hear all sorts of colloquialisms, short-cuts, mangled grammar and poor sentence structure yet, as long as the message gets through, does it matter that it's not 'proper' English?

All I have said above applies to spoken languages. Written language, however, is a whole different kettle of fish. You are quite correct in insisting that anything written down should be properly spelled, properly punctuated and properly constructed - 'Oxford English' if you like. And yet, even this is being corrupted. There are many authors of fiction who write in colloquial language or in dialect (always have been - the Scots poet Rabbie Burns for one) and yet their writings are understood by their target audience, ordinary people, because that is how they speak and, of course, there is the emergence of a completely different English 'language' - that used on the various social media. Emojis, acronyms, abbreviations, etc are common when friends communicate on social media. As long as we are all singing from the same hymn sheet then language, whatever its definition, is serving its purpose.

MegL wrote on May 14, 2018, 6:52 PM

Kasman has said it all!

VinceSummers wrote on May 14, 2018, 9:09 PM

Language is alive. What bothers me is that beautiful words are not changing gradually, such as the word terrific was (it used to means strikes terror, but now is considered a good thing). What bothers me is when interest groups (and I'm not thinking of the obvious groups) pick a word and misuse it to pass off their own personal desires. They carry enough weight that ordinarily beautiful words become cheap and meaningless. Commercial firms in my post, claiming their inferior (or even not inferior) product is the pinnacle of achievement.

In my vivid imagination, I'm not so far off from 1984, when it comes to the meaning of words.

Last Edited: May 14, 2018, 9:11 PM

allen0187 wrote on May 14, 2018, 11:17 PM

Guilty as charged!

Kasman wrote on May 15, 2018, 12:52 PM

We all are to a greater or lesser extent!

lookatdesktop wrote on May 15, 2018, 11:16 PM

I am guilty of this. I tend to use slang and sometimes just bad language, however, I did have speech training as a 4 year old, before entering into grade school. I learned to speak properly as our family had moved to Indiana from down south, in Georgia, where I first began to speak. The southern color of my voice returned half way once we moved down south once more in the early 60s. I first was told I had a strange accent and that is just because I had to re-learn to speak up north in Indiana where they do talk differently there than Texas and also differently than Georgia. So basically I went through 3 different states that all were different in the sound of the way everyone in those 3 areas spoke. It might be different if I were to move to Mars. I wonder what dialect would be there?

VinceSummers wrote on May 16, 2018, 7:56 AM

Sign language, Anthony. Sign language. No air! Sound wouldn't travel. I wonder what kind of accents pare possible with sign language?

Kasman wrote on May 17, 2018, 4:05 PM

i wouldn't be surprised if it was possible to produce an accent with sign language. Many years ago when Morse code was commonly used over telegraph wires (before the telephone was invented) each operator had their own distinctive style of tapping out messages. Apparently it was possible for an operator at one end of the line to tell who was sending a message simply by the way the message was tapped out. What's that if it's not an accent?